New Local Search Result Display – Google Upgrades the Plus Box

Joy Hawkins has spotted a new type of local display showing for the search Flushing Auto Insurance where additional results are pinned but NOT numbered.

Joy hypothesized that the result is a function of rich snippet formatting of the address being on the website. That however does not appear to be the case as neither site seems to have rich snippet information. Actually the more I look at the example that Joy is showing of the before and after, what I think we are seeing is a new more obvious Plus Box display. These typically will use reliable web based address information but it need not be rich snippet in nature.

I am curious if you are seeing these types of results on other searches? Is it a test? How widely visible is it? Let me know.

Update: Once I realized that this is likely to be a new type of Plus Box Display, I searched results that have in the past returned the Plus Box and saw this new type of result:

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
New Local Search Result Display - Google Upgrades the Plus Box by

38 thoughts on “New Local Search Result Display – Google Upgrades the Plus Box”

  1. Mike,

    Good to have you back.

    Are you seeing this as further tweaking of the SERP with regard to local search? Perhaps a bit eaasier to see the biz name, address, etc…

    PS…love to hear your thoughts on the Wildfire acquisition

  2. @TD

    I think that users were not seeing or using the Plus Box enough. Google had the confidence that the address associated with organic result was trustworthy thus I think that they upgraded it to make it more useful and familiar. It will motivate website owners to get their address properly onto their site.

    I think the Wildfire acquisition is brilliant. I see some bumps (like Facebook and Twitter) but if Google can keep the many top brands already using the product then maybe even Facebook couldn’t say no… but imagine the value of use that they could provide to every SMB and imagine the wealth of data they could collect. I am very intrigued by it.

    PS I am not back, back. I am taking it easy this summer, riding my bike and recharging my batteries.

  3. @Plamen

    As I wrote this I realized finally what I was looking at. It appears that ALL plus boxes have been upgraded to this new more local like display.

    1-it has never been totally clear how or why Google adds a Plus Box
    2- if there is a problem with it, there is absolutely no easy way to get it fixed.

  4. Mike, Years ago Google allowed the activation of the plus box (circa 2008, Yikes!). What is your gut on the signals that are most likely to activate the new plus box other than listing the correct address on your website?

    1. @brandon

      I don’t recall it ever be an option to activate it.

      My sense of the signal most likely to activate it are clear local landing pages per location (ideally rich snippet ) that have some page rank or for a single location, the NAP on every page.

  5. Hello Mike,
    I noticed that not all local results of Google search (as you showed) can not be attributed to the presence of information attractive for rich snippets within the site. Then I confirm your deduction.

    today I also notice this in the local SERPs:

    hotel vicenza

    and I wonder: why in some local results, the address (without the letter of the alphabet) is positioned laterally while in others it is under the extended description?

  6. Thanks for pointing out the significance of this. Looking back at screenshots my colleague captured for client reports, I see that we first saw this unnumbered/unlettered pin display on July 19, so it has been appearing at least that long.

  7. Check out this result from this morning – Cincinnati buick dealers – all plus box, no pinned results

    also noted that a number of top page positioned plus box results do not have NAP included on their site – hum?

  8. i can email you a screen shot of my results search if you’d like. It appeared to be different from your previous examples. Interestingly enough, I would love to see the impact of all these micro tests and tweaks are having on people actually searching for these local businesses.

    my best

  9. @Mike F,

    I noticed the same type of blended result for my client on July 20th, 2012. It seems to be an increased blend of organic and local results, with added importance on the local result.

    Check out my screen shot here:

    Perhaps the thinking behind this type of result is to get rid of organic results 3-10 since they receive a low number of clicks and highlight actual businesses, which may better serve searchers’ queries with local intent.

  10. One interesting thing I’ve also noticed is they don’t just show up on the first page. I’ve found examples of this type of listing as the 85th result. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

  11. I am seeing these listings for searches such as “New Orleans Bed and Breakfast”, which returns an un-numbered Pin for an individual inn listing on, which is a large directory/review site, and for “Seattle WA Bed and Breakfast”, which is returning the un-numbered Pin for a local B&B association and an individual inn.

    My customers will love this. My big issue is going to be trying to explain to those who aren’t seeing this result for their sites, that we can’t force this to happen!

  12. I have had great luck with pictures and videos placed in everything I could, classifieds, youtube. Great insight Thanks

  13. Our parsers consider “Web-Hybrid” identical to another O-Pack listing… but we are facing an incompatibility when the SERP blends Maps-Pack results with Web-hybrids.

  14. @David

    Not sure what you mean when you say “Our parsers consider “Web-Hybrid” identical to another O-Pack listing… but we are facing an incompatibility when the SERP blends Maps-Pack results with Web-hybrids.”

  15. @Mike, Perhaps a bit too technical, but I’ll elaborate.

    Until now, local SERPs return either an O-Pack or the traditional Maps-Pack; which are both very different in HTML source code.

    The new listing type (which we’re calling Web-Hybrid), takes on the same structure as an O-Pack listing and we essentially consider it like the next logical letter “H”.

    But it is also being blended in with Maps-Pack results; which caused some failures…

    Anyway, if anyone else is in the bits-n-bytes of tracking maps rankings; they might find this valuable…

  16. It’s interesting to note results that show listings blending with websites other than those on the +Local page (ie, third-party sites):

    Phil and Nyagoslav mentioned that it could be the presence of embedded maps on these third-party sites, but page three of my example shows the listing blending with a LinkedIn profile, which does not appear to have an embedded map. Any thoughts?

  17. @Vladdy

    It is certainly a bizarre artifact to see these pins for a business attached to YP and directory sites.

    Apparently that is how Google intended it. The exact reason for a pin showing and being attached to a given website has been a well guarded secret and I have yet to ferret out the causes/relationships.

    It is more than just a map thats for sure. There might some page authority issues, page layout and content and other elements as well. If you have a theory as to the precipitating factors, let me know.

  18. Mike:

    I set my location in google for United States and came up with this result with 3 “plus box” results in the top 10:

    What is additionally interesting is that of the 3 “plus box” type results with addresses, 2 of the 3 #’s 1 and 3 are essentially Directory Sites, listing a lot of “bartending schools” in many different cities.

    Why did Google choose one particular such school out of a directory of maybe 20-40 in different cities???

    From the deep recesses of my mind, I recall that during the period when plus boxes were often showing and often showed erroneous information…there were some complaints from directory type sites that were complaining that a single location was showing for a directory of smb’s representing businesses across the nation.

    I hate to acknowledge this..but I feel like I tracked down that answer a couple of years ago…and for the life of me…it escapes me now. RATS!!

  19. Mike: checked some search phrases wherein I had seen pinned plus box results.

    They are gone today…at least from firefox on a very small variety of search terms.

    ….sort of like a magician. Now you see it…now you don’t.

  20. Yes I noticed that they were gone in Safari and Chrome as well this morning. I was getting all set to write about that “Diamond Cutters” search result we found. But alas they are gone.

  21. Just catching wind of this removal. We were all set with an update to our local rank monitoring software too.. but alas, nothing to test on!

    Hopefully it comes back, its an awesome extension and affirmation of local.

  22. Hi Mike, I have a related question I was hoping you might have some thoughts about. A franchise owner from one of our clients searched their brand term from their town (no geo modifier), and was delivered the national listing first, with the pin you mention in this article along with the address of the correct store location under that, followed by the six organic sitelinks for the national result below the pin. This is the first time I have seen this kind of blending of both national and local in the same result. Have you seen this before?

    I have a screenshot I can share, I’m not sure if I did a great job describing it or not


    1. @Tarla

      This display is typical of what we have seen in Franchise type situations like McDonald’s. If the local franchisee did not want the corporate site to show they would need to develop an excellent local site even then it might be difficult to over come the brand bias and strength of the main corporate site.

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